Woman Adopts Two Brothers, Decides to Return One Due to His Challenging Behavior

A former BBC presenter who adopted two brothers seven years ago revealed how the decision to return one of them left her heartbroken. She also called for support for adoptive parents to help reduce adoption breakdown. 

We often read inspiring and heartwarming adoption stories, where families adopt children from foster care and welcome them not only in their homes but also in their hearts.

Thanks to adoption, many couples are now enjoying parenthood, and several kids have a place to call “home.” At the same time, there can be instances where adoption diaries have a tragic ending, leading to adoption breakdown.

Former BBC presenter Eleanor Bradford. | Photo: twitter.com/BBCWomansHour


Eleanor Bradford, a former BBC presenter and head of PR from Moray, Scotland, has recently come forward, sharing her adoption story. She and her partner adopted two brothers aged three and seven in 2014. 

Had the couple not adopted the boys, they were likely to experience separation, with the older boy remaining in a foster home after his baby brother found an adoptive family. 

Bradford and her partner wanted the brothers to stay together, and soon they became a happy family of four. She described the first five years of her family life as “full-on but fabulous,” also stating that it was a “dream that turned into a nightmare.” 

Bradford wrote in Sunday Times how her blissful family years came to an end when she found her son lying, cutting up her clothes, stealing from her, and indulging in online criminal behavior. 

Bradford said that if she and her partner had received adoption support, their family would have never fallen apart. 

She also shed light on how several children in the adoption system were affected by their biological parents in the form of violent behavior, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse, even before their birth.


The former BBC presenter said that the trauma of such abuse was bound to influence children’s psychological well-being. She explained that something similar happened to her son, who was not violent but couldn’t come to terms with the online world. 

Bradford shared that she and her partner tried their best to control his online activity. They even placed parental blocks on his cell phone usage, but he managed to get hold of another phone and started gambling online. 

Despite all efforts, her son eventually reached a point where he lost all sense of empathy and morality. Moreover, Bradford and her partner were also refused respite care. 

The couple also failed to get a diagnosis from his school, even though they suspected he suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder – brain damage caused by his birth mom’s drinking during pregnancy. Bradford told BBC: 

“It was coming to a point where he was putting us at risk and he was putting his younger brother at risk.”

After that, the couple had to make the heart-wrenching decision of returning their son to foster care. Bradford, a trustee for the charity Adoption UK, voiced her concerns regarding the lack of support available to adoptive families.

She called the system unfair for offering training and support to foster carers but not giving the same support to adoptive parents. Bradford said that if she and her partner had received adoption support, their family would have never fallen apart. 

According to figures from Adoption UK, nearly three to four percent of adoption break down annually, and almost 75 percent of adoptive parents struggle to get the support needed by their kids. Such issues are even severe in Scotland. 

A Scottish government representative responded to Bradford’s experience, adding that the government is committed to investing £500m during their tenure to support adoptive parents. 

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